This Week In Crazy: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

This Week In Crazy: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

If you’re still looking for a scary Halloween costume, consider dressing up as a climate change doubter, an anti-vaccine advocate, or an elected official who hunts demons on the side. 

Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the loony, bigoted, and hateful behavior of the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:

5. Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz’s strain of climate science rejection is a particularly potent one. “Climate change is not science,” he said recently. “It’s a religion.”

The GOP presidential candidate joined a fawning Glenn Beck on his TV show this week and retold the glory of his grilling of Sierra Club president Aaron Mair at a Senate committee hearing a few weeks ago. Cruz bragged that he couldn’t get a single piece of evidence out of Mair because he “did not know the facts” (Mair did issue a response later), and accused the 97 percent of the scientific community that recognizes the reality of man-made climate change of clinging to a “religion.”

From Right Wing Watch:

“Look at the language where they call you a ‘denier,'” [Cruz] said. “Denier is not the language of science. Look, I’m the child of two scientists … The essence of the scientific method is to start with a hypothesis, then look to the evidence to disprove the hypothesis; you’re not trying to prove it, you’re trying to disprove it. Any good scientist is a skeptic; if he’s not, he or she should not be a scientist. But yet the language of the global warming alarmists, ‘denier’ is the language of religion, it’s heretic, you are a blasphemer. The response from the Sierra Club, ‘We have decreed this is the answer, you must accept it.’ And so he didn’t know his facts because he just knew his religion.”

In case you missed the ugly scene Cruz is recalling (you can view it here), the senator spent nearly 10 minutes peddling debunked science, and dismissing the “preponderance of evidence” that Mair cited as being (merely) the beliefs of a majority of climate scientists. Cruz also somehow pinned the entire case for anthropogenic climate change on “one bogus study.”

In addition, Cruz attempted to bully Mair into admitting that the Sierra Club would refuse to issue a retraction if it turned out to be wrong, and with a broad smirk assailed Mair’s unfortunate use of the phrase “cooking up” to describe rising global temperatures.

The temerity on display is something to behold as Cruz trumpets discredited analysis, clinging hard to an denialist creed, and then smugly accuses those who actually read and consider the vast majority of scientific findings on the matter of being “absolutists” and ideologues.

Of course, Cruz knows a little something about unwavering fundamentalist dogma, having made the rejection of marriage equality a touchstone of his campaign (under the guise of resisting a supposed “war on Christians”).

No, Cruz is “not a scientist.” He’s a hypocrite and an obstinate fool.

ViaRight Wing Watch

Next: Tamara Scott

4. Tamara Scott

It was not a good week for science. (When is it ever?)

Tamara Scott, an Iowa RNC member and anti-vaxxer, got in front of a camera this week and said that socialism in schools was to blame for the rise of preventable disease outbreaks. Not — as you and the CDC might believe — the anti-vaccination movement.

Scott argued that schools have become hot zones of poisonous socialistic ideologies and therefore hot zones of actual pathogens — since children are forced to share pencils and “face each other.” She continued:

They’ve gone to this socialistic teaching where you no longer have your own pencils you’re responsible for so you can learn how to take care of things and be a good steward; it’s all socialistic in the middle of the table, you’re all facing each other, handling each other’s things. And the schools, yet, when my kids were in school, kept wondering why they kept having all the issues with strep throat and all the issues with all these childhood illnesses continually happening. Because it’s the new way they’re doing school in the classroom. So, if you want to keep your kid healthy, take them out of public school. It will help them mentally, emotionally, academically and now, physically, it would help them as well.

I disagree with Scott on just about everything here, but one point I’d like to call special attention to: She says that having publicly voiced this theory of hers, she will now be unable to run for public office because her screed “will follow me with some of the liberal news organizations.” (Guilty as charged.)

On the contrary, this nonsensical rant puts her in good company with the Republican party.

ViaRight Wing Watch

Next: Allen B. West

3. Allen B. West

When you just want to mainline pure raging uncut right-wing reactionary stupidity, you can scarcely do better than the blog of former Florida congressman Allen B. West, whose penchant for knee-jerk idiocy is virtually unmatched.

This the same “inquisitive fella” (as he self-described) who, without actually asking any questions, declared that Walmart had come under Sharia law after noticing that an employee (who, he assumed, was Muslim) was not selling alcohol in his aisle. West determined that this was an apparent attempt to force Islamic doctrine down the throats of bargain-hunting American shoppers. But far from leading a cashier caliphate, the young man was actually underage and therefore, by law, could not sell alcohol. (Laws governing the sale of alcohol are mostly on the books thanks to the Christian temperance movement — some religions get all the luck.)

Anyway, West is back in fine form this week, declaring in a blog post published Tuesday that the recent WHO announcement that processed meats can cause cancer is part of a liberal conspiracy to ruin Texas BBQ, saying that “thanks to the World Health Organization, [West’s] friends could sue” him if he tried to serve them some freshly grilled sausages.

West describes the WHO’s study as an example of scientific elites “dictating… via fear mongering and intimidation” that Americans have to put down their patriotic honey-baked hams and load their plates up with politically correct tofu and veggie kabobs.

He writes:

Sure seems this study is all about some liberal progressive agenda. What happens if all of a sudden government takes this study as justification to regulate what we eat — man, can you imagine First Lady Michelle Obama coming up with the football tailgate menu? Our kids hate the new school lunch menu — so what’s next?

Or will grocery stores be “fined” for selling meats deemed to be carcinogenic? Will the FDA all of a sudden demand all specified meats on the WHO list have certain labeling like cigarettes? Oh, here comes the big one, will there be increased taxes on these meats in order to deter their purchase? After all, big government would be doing it to save and protect us from ourselves. Laugh as you may, but think about the sugary drinks tax idea of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

There’s a nugget of sensible advice buried in West’s tirade, in which he recommends that readers enjoy “everything in moderation. Take care of yourselves and get your exercise done and have a balanced diet.”

Reasonable enough. And then there’s this:

“If I like bacon with an egg on a flakey croissant that’s my choice. Then again, I suppose the only choice the progressive left likes is killing a baby.”

Of course! I must have forgotten about the several state probes, congressional committees, and police raids that have been organized as part of the progressive agenda to criminalize the consumption of brisket. Your day is coming, West, when we shall cast all American meat-eaters into the shadows and you can practice your back alley barbecues in fear and shame.

Here West evokes one of Shakespeare’s most memorably addled twits, Sir Andrew Aguecheek from Twelfth Night, who once said, “I am a great eater of beef and I believe it does harm to my wit.”

No question.

Next: Gordon Klingenschmitt

2. Gordon Klingenschmitt

Remember Gordon “Dr. Chaps” Klingenschmitt? He’s the Colorado state rep who has likened gay marriage to slavery, warned us there were demons in marijuana, promised that Jesus would personally nullify same-sex marriage by sending gay men to hell, and also said that a horrific assault on a pregnant woman was God’s just punishment for legal abortion.

Well, he’s getting into the Halloween spirit by accusing Cecile Richards and her cronies of being literally ghouls.

From Right Wing Watch:

Absurdly claiming that a recent Planned Parenthood decision to stop accepting legal reimbursements for fetal tissue donation at the two clinics that currently accept such reimbursements was an “admission that they were selling aborted baby parts,” Klingenschmitt declared that the women’s health organization’s executives should be “in jail for multiple felonies, not only for killing children — some justices think that’s legal, in God’s eyes it’s never legal — but profiting for it.”

“I don’t believe these people for a moment, do you?” he asked. “In fact, we can discern upon them the spirit of lying, the spirit of death, the spirit of murder, the spirit of greed. I mean, whenever I look at a picture of those executives, if you look in the spirit, at the demons inside of them, you can see the blood dripping from their fangs. These people are just evil.”

Paging Dr. Chaps — perhaps another demon-hunting excursion is in order.

Next: Bryan Fischer

1. Bryan Fischer

I owe Bryan Fischer an apology. The mouthpiece for the American Family Association is apparently a loyal TWIC reader, and a peeved one at that, since he failed to snag the #1 spot last time he was on the list.

In a possible bid for that esteemed title, last week he cooked up a juicy screed defending the constitutionality of shutting down mosques — and I completely missed it. Sorry, Bryan. But better late than never, I suppose.

Writing in the AFA’s blog last Thursday, Fischer doubles down on Donald Trump’s controversial remarks that he would “certainly look at” the legality of shutting down a mosque.

In a post subtly titled “Yes, mosques can be closed,” Fischer valiantly steps in to go one better than Trump: Not only can we shut down mosques, we must — and, in fact, the U.S. Constitution authorizes it.

Fischer writes:

If we understand the term “religion” in the First Amendment to refer to any system of supernatural belief, as activist judges have done, then we have no way to close mosques or even to stop the erecting of giant statues of Satan right next to Ten Commandments monuments on government property.

But if we understand “religion” as the Founders did, to refer specifically to Christianity, then there is a perfectly constitutional way to shut down mosques starting today.

In Fischer’s gloss, this means the “Founders were not accepting, supporting, approving or extending toleration to Islam in the First Amendment,” and so “while Congress is flatly prohibited by the First Amendment from interfering with the free exercise of the Christian religion, the Constitution is silent regarding Islam.”

Fischer’s argument rests on two notions: 1.) that when the Founders wrote the First Amendment “religion” was understood to only apply to Christians, and 2.) even if the First Amendment precludes the national government from enforcing laws against Islam, the 10th Amendment, Fischer writes, “gave to the States unilateral authority to regulate religious expression as they saw fit.”

We’ll start with #1.

Fischer summons the authority of Joseph Story, who served on the Supreme Court from 1811 to 1845. He quotes a passage from Story’s Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, which argues that the purpose of the First Amendment was “to exclude all rivalry among Christian sects,” and “not to countenance, much less to advance Mahometanism [Islam], or Judaism, or infidelity.”

Unfortunately for Fischer, Story’s commentary, written in 1833, has no intrinsic legal value, having never been included in an official ruling, and Story is emphatically not a Founding Father — since he was, after all, 12 years old when the First Amendment was adopted. But that’s just scratching the surface of Fischer’s duplicitous manure heap.

Luckily, recent ignorant GOP candidates have thrust back into the spotlight the issue of the Framers’ original intent as it pertains to the definition of “religion.” The renewed attention has made it pretty clear that this is an asked and answered matter: The Founding Fathers understood the word “religion” to extend beyond the narrow scope of Christian sects.

A useful point of reference is the debate over the No Religious Test Clause in Article VI of the Constitution, which is pretty unequivocal on this point, saying that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.”

From the Heritage Foundation, a notoriously liberal resource, we have a Notre Dame law professor explaining that the arguments over the No Religious Tests Clause hinged on this expansion of the definition beyond Christianity. Those who objected to the clause did so for a very simple reason: It meant that “‘Jews,’ ‘Turks,’ ‘infidels,’ ‘heathens,’ and even ‘Roman Catholics’ might hold national office under the proposed Constitution.” James Madison understood as much when he wrote the clause “opened a door” for these decidedly un-Christian elements.

If Fischer had continued reading the passage from Story’s Commentaries on which he rests his argument, he might have seen that while Story concedes that the main object of the First Amendment was to quell rivalry among Christian denominations — he argues that the undisputed result was to “cut off the means of religious persecution” (which he described as “the vice and pest of former ages”) of any religion.

Fischer does not dive into the rest of Story’s commentary, in which he goes on to describe how theocratic states had “afforded the most solemn warnings and melancholy instructions” on the matter of religious intolerance, lamenting that “Apostasy, heresy, and nonconformity had been standard crimes for public appeals, to kindle the flames of persecution, and apologize for the most atrocious triumphs over innocence and virtue.”

Story concludes that the outcome of the clause was that “the Catholic and the Protestant, the Calvinist and the Arminian, the Jew and the Infidel, may sit down at the common table of the national councils, without any inquisition into their faith, or mode of worship.”

Now, about that “national councils” business. Fischer’s #2 big leap of course ignores the incorporation doctrine, whereby the 14th Amendment extends Bill of Rights protections to apply to the states — and, yes, that includes free exercise of religion. In other words: No, Bryan, the 10th Amendment does not empower states to bulldoze mosques on their own authority and erect Chick-fil-A’s on the ground where they once stood.

Fischer has the audacity to invoke Thomas Jefferson in an article advocating the wholesale persecution of a religion, cherry-picking a line from one of Jefferson’s letters, written in 1808, in which he concedes that if government had any role in administrating religion, it would reside with the states. But Fischer neglects to also include Jefferson’s conclusion in that same letter: “I do not believe it is for the interest of religion to invite the civil magistrate to direct its exercises, its discipline, or its doctrines; nor of the religious societies that the general government should be invested with the power of effecting any uniformity of time or matter among them.”

And I can quote Jefferson too. I’m especially fond of his first inaugural address, in which he proclaimed that the young nation had “banished from our land that religious intolerance under which mankind so long bled and suffered.”

Perhaps he spoke too soon.

Anyway — congratulations, Bryan! You’re back on top!

Photo: John via Flickr 

Check out previous editions of This Week In Crazy here. Think we missed something? Let us know in the comments!

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